What We Learned About Laying Hardwood Flooring Part 1

By | December 11, 2014

It’s been a long journey to this point in the remodeling process. Melissa already shared some preview photos of the new floor, here. But we also wanted to share some of the tips for laying flooring that we picked up along the way.

First of all, we want to say it’s important to fully research and completely follow the manufacturers instructions for installing your flooring. That was the most important step we took in preparing to tackle this project ourselves. We talked more about that, here. The lessons we’re sharing here are simply some installation tips and tricks we figured out along the way using trial and error.

Armstrong American Scrape Engineered Flooring 3

1. When you are starting to open the boxes of flooring, it is a good idea to sort out the boards by length and quality. We held back any boards that had bad spots in a separate pile. Melissa was in charge of this part of the process and would be sure to check through those boards first when we had boards that needed to be cut to fit around walls or under appliances. That helped us reduce our waste.

It’s also great to lay out several rows of boards to keep things “perfectly random.” You want to mix and match boards from a few boxes at once and be sure to not place any edges too close together.

Flooring Laying Out Boards

This was especially important for the areas where two rooms were going to meet up so we didn’t have any weird seams.

Flooring Kitchen Doorway 2

2. Using the scraps, we were able to greatly reduce our total waste. Since we laid the floor parallel to the hallway, we had to cut each piece on the left side of the living room and kitchen. We were careful to select boards for those ends that would allow us to use the other side (the “would-be-wasted” side) to begin the next row on the other side of the room. That way, the cut edges, which didn’t have a tongue or groove and would otherwise have to be wasted, could be turned towards the wall. You’ll need to select boards that are long enough to give you at least 6 inches of “waste” in order to be able to use the entire board, so keep that in mind.

It seems simple, but we saved so much waste this way, and Melissa was able to make most of the cuts herself using the chop saw, which saved time and left me on the floor to do all the nailing.

Flooring Chop Saw

3. Putting down flooring around the vents is tricky. To make it easier, try to line up a break in the boards over the vent hole so there is a seam. If you can do this, you can make two cuts perpendicular to each other in order to cut off the corner of the board. If not, You’ll do this with four boards to make the entire rectangular cut out. Otherwise, you have to use a jigsaw or oscillating tool to cut out a section from the middle of the board, which is a lot harder.

Cutting Around Floor Vents

4. Laying the flooring for the fridge, dishwasher and the oven took a little more planning. For the majority of the rows, we continued to lay the flooring like normal, but for the ones that butted up against the wall panels on either side of the appliance, we had to rip them down to make them fit.

Flooring Kitchen Under Dishwasher

You’re basically doing a tiny room when you’re working on a small hole like that.

Flooring Kitchen Under Range 2

Anywhere we needed to cut a piece thinner, I set up the table saw and ripped the board to the needed width. I also undercut the edges to make it easier to slide into place. This process can be frustrating if your house isn’t perfectly square, so I’d suggest using a marking tool to make sure your cuts are exactly right.

Flooring Kitchen Under Range

5. When you have boards that are less than an inch in thickness, nailing them down isn’t a great option because they could split. So I covered the back with glue and put them in place.

Flooring Glue

We’ll keep an eye on these board to make sure they stay firmly in place, but we’re not expecting to have any problems as these boards are mostly hidden right next to walls or under cabinets or appliances.

Flooring Glue 2

We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our flooring lessons learned. Sorry these are delayed, but with the holidays and all this rushing to get flooring, trim, other kitchen projects, and life in general, we’ve been crazy around here.

What have learned about installing flooring? Share them in a comment below!

We’d never done carpet, hardwood, linoleum, or a bunch of other types although I had done a floating floor and some tile in the past. Melissa was pretty scared about tackling this big project, but I knew we could handle it.


4 thoughts on “What We Learned About Laying Hardwood Flooring Part 1

  1. cris

    This all looks great! Thanks for pointing out that 6 inch rule… A lot of people don’t pay attention to it. I hope you two are proud of yourselves! Looks AWESOME!


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